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Men who harass Saudi female drivers risk $.8m fine, 15-year jail term


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As the June 24 dateline allowing women in Saudi Arabia to drive draws near, the government has enacted far-reaching laws to curb possible harassment or outright physical attacks.
The newly promulgated eight-article law punishes convicted harasser with up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to three million riyals (about $800,000), the Okaz newspaper reported, citing Saudi sources.
Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, a top advisory body to the government, on Monday approved an anti-harassment bill, weeks before the conservative kingdom is set to lift a long-standing ban on female driving.
“The law is aimed at combating and preventing the crime of harassment, enforcing penalty on perpetrators, protecting victims and safeguarding the individual’s privacy, dignity and freedom ensured by the Islamic sharia law,” the council said in a statement.
The eight-article law punishes the harasser with up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine up to three million riyals (about $800,000), the Okaz newspaper reported, citing Saudi sources.
In September, Saudi King Salman issued a decision rescinding a ban on women driving in the country, with his favourite son, Crown Prince Mohammed, believed to be behind the move.
The decision will come into effect on June 24.
Many Saudi women have expressed their concerns over harassment when they are allowed to drive.
The anti-harassment law, drafted by the Saudi Interior Ministry, was ordered by the king in December.
Saudi Arabia until now has not had relevant legislation to deal with the problem.

(dpa/NAN)